A man the Navy believes to be the suspected coordinator of the multiple attacks on oil and gas facilities in Delta State has been arrested.
He was yesterday paraded along with some other suspects by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Delta in Warri.
Also paraded were six other suspects arrested for other crimes, among them, the suspected killers of some security personnel and civilians in Batan, Warri South-West council area of Delta State on April 30.
Also yesterday, the Federal Government was praised for initiating a ceasefire in Delta State creeks in the ongoing effort to restore peace to the volatile area.
The Commander of the NNS Delta, Commodore Raimi Mohammed, at a press conference held at the base of the command in Warri, described the arrest of the suspected coordinator of the attacks on Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) facilities as “a star success”.
He believes that his arrest would curtail further attacks.
Commodore Mohammed, who did not name the suspects, particularly the three key suspects, said his command worked in synergy with other law enforcement agencies to achieve the feat, adding that they all followed up on the investigations and interrogations that made the arrests possible.
“Today I am pleased to announce that after several weeks of persistent efforts, the Nigerian Navy, in collaboration with other security agencies, has arrested the main coordinator of attacks on NNPC and Chevron oil and gas facilities that we have witnessed since May 4, 2016, with the attack on Chevron’s Okan valve platform, offshore Escravos.
“This arrest came after weeks of trailing and arrest of his foot-soldiers. It is important to mention that the suspect is also deeply involved in pipeline vandalism for stealing crude oil. He steals crude oil from about 35 abandoned oil well-heads and crude oil pipelines in Okpoko and Obodo in Warri South-West council area of Delta state. The Nigerian Navy believes with the arrest of this suspect, the attacks on Chevron/NNPC oil and gas facilities will abate,” the naval chief said.
He said that the command was on the trail of his collaborators and foot-soldiers, whom he said were on the run, adding that materials used in blowing up and vandalising facilities had been recovered.
Commodore Mohammed revealed that a key arrest had also been made in the investigation of the attack last week on the Shell Petroleum Development Company’s (SPDC’s) 48-inch crude export pipeline in Forcados.
Asked if any of the key arrests had led to the unveiling of those behind the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the officer said his concern was not about names of persons or groups, but about the actual persons involved in the attacks.
For the Federal Government, it has been praises for initiating the ceasefire in the creeks of Delta State after months of military onslaught against rampaging Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).
The Center for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), a non-governmental Organisation (NGO) which gave the commendation, described it as a welcome development.
But it urged the government not to politicise the dialogue to be led by the National Security Adviser (NSA). Critical stakeholders from the core oil producing communities should be included in the process otherwise the impact would not trickle down to the grassroots, the NGO said.
In a statement signed by it National Coordinator, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, CEPEJ said: “Most of the crises are being perceived to be sponsored by the political class to gain more relevance.”
The Center observed that several dialogues had been held in the past on the development of the Niger Delta, but the resolutions were never implemented.
‘’We want to believe that this is not another political gimmick but a genuine intention to address the problem once and for all,” it said.
CEPEJ urged the communities to take advantage of the proposed parley by electing credible leaders to lead the talks on their behalf and not succumb to the whims and caprices of politicians.
The NGO called on the militants to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue as the only veritable and viable means to resolving conflicts and not personalise the Niger Delta question.
‘’Niger Delta Avengers should sheathe their swords and embrace peace. The issues they are fighting for are not personal. The problem of underdevelopment is encompassing the Niger Delta region. They should give room for dialogue.’’